So you have made up your mind to go on a safari. You’ve started putting the things you will need together. You already know that safari binoculars are one of the must-haves if you really want to make the most out of your visit and have a good experience watching wild life.
You may decide not to get one because tourists are provided binoculars, but you will have to share with other tourists, and the pair you will be given will likely not be first-rate. If you don’t want miss any action or a magical moment, the best bet is to get yourself a good pair of safari binoculars.
Making a decision to get a pair of binoculars is one thing, choosing the right pair is another. This guide will help you handle the latter. So here are things you should look out for when choosing good safari binoculars.
Is your visit going to be a one-off adventure? Will you need your binoculars a few years down the line, perhaps with the intention of paying another visit? If your answer is no, then you need not invest in an expensive optics. Just go for a decent pair that does not cost so much. Knowing the purpose will help you earmark the right amount you can afford to spare. Remember, a pair of binoculars is not the only item you need when packing for a safari.
When it comes to binoculars, top notch brands include Zeiss, Swarovski, Leica, Canon, and Nikon. These brands make high quality binoculars which do not come cheap. Their products are worth buying. However, there are other less expensive binoculars which can get the job done. When buying, go for a pair of binoculars which does not cost an arm and a leg, and at the same time, not so cheap. $400 can get you a very good one. High quality brands cost over $2,000. With binoculars, cost is synonymous with quality. Simple. That said, your focus should be on value rather than price.
This is simply the distance between your binoculars’ eyepiece and your eye. If you have good eyesight, this is not a big deal. But if your eyesight is not excellent and you are going to wear glasses, then opt for a pair of binoculars with about 15 mm eye relief. Always choose binoculars with long eye relief so that even if you don’t hold them very close to your eyes, you would see clear pictures.
Field of View
Your binoculars’ field of view (FOV) is the width of the image you can see through the binoculars. Field of view is particularly important when you are viewing running animals. A wide field of view will enable you to view small fast moving animals like birds. In most cases, the more magnification you have, the narrower the field of view. However, for slow moving animals, go for binoculars with a narrow field of view.
For a safari, high magnification does not guarantee high quality images. In fact, images become quite unstable and their quality decreases with increase in magnification. If you want stable images and do not want to travel with a tripod, a pair of binoculars with 8x magnification will be just fine. High-end binoculars have automatic image stabilization capability. If you are getting one of those, you will get very good images even with high magnification. For most binoculars, more magnification equals less field of view. You can’t view a very fast moving animal or bird if your magnification is too big.
Weight and Size
Safari binoculars come in different sizes and weights. Go for light and compact binoculars if you will be watching wild birds a lot. They are easier to put up to your eyes when you want to view an important action. Nevertheless, some light and compact optics do not have excellent image qualities and precision. If weight is not a problem, and you care about bright images, then get yourself mid-sized binoculars. Again, if you are not on a low budget, then expensive compact binoculars will give you high quality images despite its size. This means that on a bright day, you get good images. On a not-so-bright day, you get the same excellent quality as well.
Try Them Out Yourself
Before settling for one, be sure to try them out yourself. Check out different options. Make sure you are comfortable with the size, weight, look, and feel before spending your money. Recommendations are good, but nothing beats going for an item your are comfortable with. The aim of trying it out is to identify the type that suits your needs and budget.
As you prepare for a visit to safari, remember to go with your own pair of binoculars. This is one item that will make your wildlife viewing worthwhile.